Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ode to the O'Coffeys

I think I'm in mourning. Our dear friends, the O'Coffeys, are heading out for California in a couple of days. Today was their last worship service with us at Clifton... and I cried through at least half of the service. I told Chet about half way through the service that we should have been sitting in a place where I couldn't see them, because every time I saw Selina, I quietly lost it all over again.

Selina was the first person I met here in Louisville that I consider a true friend... you know, the kind that you can be completely honest with and know that she'll do the same. I've met others since then, but there's something about that first person you really connect with in a place that makes them pretty special. We were able to laugh and cry together... sometimes in the same 10 minutes. Chet and Mike get along great, and my kids LOVE the O'Coffey kids. Makes for some fun times, that's for sure!

A couple of weeks ago, when they decided to move back to CA for sure, Mike said, "It's really sad to leave, but the great thing is that I know that we're not saying good-bye forever. We're making friends from all over the place, and one day, we'll all be in the same place again... for eternity." Amen! And what a party it will be!

Now I'm just left wondering if Selina will show up in her perfectly-coordinated-super-cute-and-just-a-tad-bit-flashy outfits with her amazing jet-black hair and BEAUTIFUL smile... and praying that I really do get to see them all before then. California, here we come!!!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Hummus Pack-Pack

We have had a pretty amazing 24 hours in the potty training department. We had Ladan in diapers until yesterday around 5pm. He had demonstrated that he was holding it well enough to attempt to venture out to the store without a diaper... as an experiment, of course. I went prepared with a change of clothes for him, plenty of wipes, and his little fold-up potty seat just in case he might possibly be willing to use the public restroom without totally freaking out (it is a pretty scary place sometimes).

We went to several stores. Somewhere along the way, I had to go, so Ladan went along with me. I decided to get out his little potty seat and see if he'd sit on the toilet... and HE DID IT!!!!! I was totally excited, so much so that he got a present. This was a HUGE step in the potty training venture, as he has always been petrified of this before.

When we got home, he went to the potty again, and I went to get a diaper for him to wear to bed. He asked if he could wear his underpants to bed. He has had dry nights most of the time for the last couple of weeks, so I agreed. And guess what! He stayed dry in his underpants too. Then he went the entire day, including his nap, without wetting his pants. We are very excited!!!!

While we were at the store last night, I decided to look for a backpack for Ladan. I've been looking for one that's small enough for him for a while, but they're all massive... or they're Nike and are therefore $28. I'm sorry, but a 3-year-0ld most likely doesn't need a $28 backpack... even though the Nike one was pretty cool. Well, we were at Target, and we found the section of kids backpacks in with the luggage. He chose a Thomas the Train backpack that is plenty small for him but plenty big to carry a change of clothes, his water and snack, and some toys/books. He still calls Thomas "Hummus", and he calls his backpack a "pack-pack". When we were at the check-out counter, Ladan was being very friendly to the not-so-friendly cashier. He announced to her, "I've got Hummus on my pack-pack!" She looked at him like he was crazy, and when he thanked her and told her to have a good night, she didn't even respond. Let's just hope that he overwhelmed her with kindness and moved her to speechlessness. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, anyway.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Deja Vu

Sunny. 80 degrees. Blue sky. Light breeze. No humidity. It's the third weekend of July. Is this 2000 or 2007? Aside from the change in our location... and the fact that I'm not wearing a white dress with a long train... and the fact that there's no way in tarnation that I'd fit into that dress... and we have two children, one would think that this was our wedding weekend. Tomorrow is our 7th anniversary, and the weather has provided the perfect opportunity to think back to the day we were first married. What a great day!

The Lord has blessed us abundantly and continues to grow both of us into more godly spouses for one another. What an adventure and a joy to watch this process unfold in each other! I'm so grateful that I have someone who is so committed to me as I grow and who loves the Lord so much that he is intentional to labor through the process of becoming a more Christ-like husband.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"I Think I'll Charge That"

Can you believe that American Airlines apparently thinks that Ladan is old enough to use this phrase when he purchases something? He received his first credit card application in the mail yesterday. Whatever! I'm sure it's just because he has a frequent flyer account with American, but it would probably serve them well to ensure that the people to whom they're offering credit accounts are at least out of the single digits.

Yesterday was a big day for Ladan apparently, because he also almost choked to death. Probably couldn't handle the thought of debt at the age of three. No, seriously, he was eating a turkey burger (we don't eat a lot of red meat in our house), but he wasn't chewing and swallowing in a timely fashion. He ended up aspirating some of it, and I had to lay him over my arm and pound the turkey burger out of him until it splatted on the floor. All in a day's work, I guess. Of course, after it was all over, he freaked out (totally understandable). I was fairly impressed that he ate more than 1/4 of a turkey burger! Hopefully the near-death experience won't cause him to avoid all meat in the future. By the way, he calls them "burgergers".

Gabe also had a pretty eventful day. He stood by himself for about 4-5 seconds. He's done this before for maybe a second or two, but I believe that this can officially be called standing alone. Of course, he's not doing it consistently yet, but I'm sure he'll be working in that direction sooner than I'm ready. And to think that just 9.5 months ago, he weighed 1/2 as much, was 7 inches shorter, and couldn't even hold his head steady, let alone his whole body while he supported all his weight on his feet!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy Father's Day 2006

It was a perfect night for some type of outdoor activity with the family! I got off work at 5pm, and we decided to pack the boys up and head out for a Louisville Bats game. The Bats are the AA baseball team associated with the Cincinnati Reds, and they play right here at Louisville Slugger Field. We've been here for just under two years and haven't been yet. This was also the gift that we gave to Chet LAST Father's Day. Since I was pregnant, we moved last summer, and Ladan would have had a heart attack if any fireworks were set off, we didn't end up going last year. I'm glad we waited. It was tons of fun!

And a little bit of a sentimental photo for you... Baby Gabe holding his daddy's hand.

Ladan has been saying some hilarious things lately, so I thought I'd catch up on those...
  • Ladan has been a bit quick to tell us "no" sometimes, so we've been working on the "Yes, Mom" or "Yes, Dad" response. This afternoon, he was being a bit noisy, so I explained that he needed to speak more quietly. Before he could even argue, I reminded him that the appropriate response is "Yes, Mom." He complied. A few seconds later, he was talking in the hallway (to himself--I have no idea where he gets it). He walked in to me and said, "That's not too noisy. Now you say, 'Yes, Ladan.'" I mean, really, what can you do except smile at that?! I did gently remind him that he's not in charge, and I thanked him for quieting down.
  • I mentioned in a previous post that we've been instructing Ladan to call out to God for help when he has scary dreams. Well, the other night, he started screaming bloody murder. I usually let him work it out on his own, but this time his cry was different, so I went in. When I walked through the door, I asked, "What's wrong, Buddy?" He responded with urgency, "Please, God, help me! I'm scared!" He had worked up a sweat and was shaking. I asked him about his dream, and he described something about a basketball coming at him and making him fall off his bed. So we prayed, and he reminded me that God will help him when he's scared. He also reminded me that God will help me when I'm scared.
  • We rented Flipper, the movie, last week. It's the version with Paul Hogan (aka Crocodile Dundee) and Elijah Wood. There's a scene where Paul Hogan comes up out of the water after skiing and he has a dripping cigar in his mouth. Ladan saw that scene the other day and exclaimed, "Oh, no! His hot gog (hot dog) is all wet!" I had no idea what to say, so I just said, "Oh, wow!" Except I kept laughing, so Ladan knew something was up. He added with great seriousness, "Mommy, it's a hot gog," as if I was really silly for laughing at a wet hot dog.
  • Last night, I was laying beside Ladan in his bed. He likes for me to "carry" him, which basically just entails letting him lay on my arm and putting my other arm around him while he lays there. We were just quietly laying in his bed, me carrying him, and he said, "Mom, Jesus is riding on a white horse." Remembering that we've had this conversation before, I asked Ladan how he knows that Jesus is riding on a white horse. He replied, "It's in the Bible." GREAT! Here's the funny part... he went on to say, "Mom, I saw Jesus riding a water buffalo." And I thought we were getting somewhere. :)

One of my friends from the Columbia days has three boys, and two of them are just about a year ahead of each of our boys. When I explained to her about a year and a half ago that we have a hard time getting Ladan to eat meat or much of a variety of anything for that matter, she told me to just be patient. She had a similar experience and encouraged me, saying that as soon as we had another child and he started eating solids, Ladan would see him eating new foods and want to keep up with the little guy. Well, she was right on! Today, Chet got out the sliced turkey (just an aside... please make sure your deli meat is nitrate/nitrite free) to see if Gabe would want some. He was rejecting a bunch of his baby food, but he was clearly hungry. Well, Ladan saw Gabe eating that turkey and asked for some himself. He proceeded to eat two entire slices of turkey. He has never actually swallowed turkey after chewing it, so this is super-exciting!

My neighbors and I are heading to a farmer's market in the morning to get some fresh produce, and I'm pretty excited about it! I always buy fresh anyway, but at this particular market we get $10 of free produce. I'm excited to see what we find!

A Word From the Lord

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" --2 Corinthians 12:8-9

This particular scripture came up twice in my time with the Lord tonight, and it's clear that this was no coincidence. I have to confess that my life has felt a little bit out of control lately and that I've wanted to rein it in a bit. But here's the real confession... it's no more out of control than it is any other time; it's just that I've not taken the time I need with the Lord to be reminded that it's not my job to keep it all in order anyway.

I'm going to take a minute to outline some of the thoughts that have been running through my head for the last few weeks:
  • If I could just catch up on my laundry, I'd feel so relieved...
  • If I could just get my house cleaned all at once.... It would be so great to just take an evening and relax in it.
  • If I could only find time to update our financial records in Quicken...
  • If I could only find time to organize all the photos I had printed... and put them in albums... and label them...
  • If I could only find a pair of jeans that fit me... (not as big a deal as some of the others, but still a bigger concern than it needs to be)
  • If I could only find time to exercise and get my body back to a size that will allow me to wear my pre-Gabe clothing so I can actually enjoy the clothing I already own...
  • If only I could catch up on my sleep...
  • If I could only find time to keep up with all my friends and family and invest in all kinds of people the way I want to...
  • If only I "had more time" to spend in the Word and reading...
  • If I could only.....................................................

You can see why this seems outrageously exhausting! Have I accomplished any of these things? NO! But will I EVER accomplish any of these things? NO!!!! It's insane to think it's possible. There's always dirty laundry because we wear clothing while we run the washer. There will always be a dirty floor because we always step on two seconds after we clean it. I will never have all my photos in order because we're always printing new ones to organize. I might possibly get my body back down to its most healthy state, but the fact of the matter is that I am getting older, and it is NOT going to look the same as when I was 18. And as long as I continue to make new friends and watch our family expand, I will never have enough time in my life to keep up with everyone the way I would like.

So, in the end, what does this all boil down to? I'm only human. I am weak, and I can't do everything. I will still always strive for excellence, but there's a reason that the Lord gave me these things to deal with... so I can SEE with my own eyes that I have limitations... and that He does not. The daily tasks on my list are important because He has asked me to fulfill my role as a wife, mother, friend, and member of the Body. However, because I will never be able to keep up on my own, I will always need to lean on the Lord for strength and encouragement.

I'm still reading Future Grace by John Piper. In today's reading, I came across this quote:

'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Here we see grace given in the form of Christ's sustaining power in unrelieved affliction--one grace given in the circle of another grace denied. And Paul responded with faith in the sufficiency of this future grace: 'Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me' (2 Corinthians 2:9)....

We should not be suprised that God gives us wonderful graces in the midst of suffering that we had asked him to spare us. He knows best how to apportion his grace for our good and for his glory.

I probably wouldn't apply the word "affliction" to my daily trials, but all of these things are definitely challenges. And if I lose focus, I can become afflicted with a much higher level of anxiety than I would otherwise experience. So, as I look back at the last two days, I'm praising the Lord for the 50-minute walk in the park with the boys, the MOSTLY clean floors, the ALMOST finished laundry, the cookout we had with our neighbors tonight, the two hours that Chet spent with the boys this morning so I could get a full 8 hours of sleep for one night, and the cabinet that closes so I don't have to stare at the unfiled receipts and photos to put away. Above all, I'm thankful for the last hour of time reflecting on the Word, as this was likely the most productive hour of it all.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Target Comes Through Again

I went to Target yesterday afternoon to look for a couple of organizational items they regularly stock. I was almost certain I was going to find these things. However, I had no idea I was going to find so many other things that have been on my list of things to continually look for until I find them. I was able to find new workout shorts, which was pretty exciting. However, my excitement over the fact that I actually found athletic shorts long enough to cover my rear paled in comparison to my delight when I just decided to poke my head into the "Back to College" section and actually found the pop-up laundry baskets I've been looking for for months.

We have approximately 980 square feet in our apartment, so I have never been completely satisfied with the fact that 4-8 of those square feet are designated to laundry baskets at any given point in time. It doesn't seem like a lot, but I am constantly rounding the corner of my bathroom or the hallway and staring at laundry baskets. These new baskets fold up to become completely flat, and they can become even more compact if I flip them up into little 6" circles (kind of like a windshield sun shade for your car). Needless to say, since they can just fold up and fit between the wall and the washer, there is absolutely no reason I'll need to look at them unless there is laundry to be put away.

The home organization section at our Target store is right beside the toy section, so Ladan and I ended up traveling down through the aisle displaying all the cars, airplanes, bulldozers, and other such Matchbox-sized vehicles. We happened to look up at the section of Cars toys, and he found several that have been hard to come by. We loaded up Sheriff, The King, Fillmore, and Sarge, and he decided to pay for them with his "happy birthday money". He laid them in the cart right by his side until we made our way up to the counter about 20 minutes later. During this 20-minute interval, he was gracious enough to help me choose the appropriate colors of shorts, laundry baskets and bathroom hand towels (an invaluable service in my world). When we finally reached the register, he handed his cars to the cashier, handed over his money, accepted his change and receipt, and told the man to "have a nice day".

We loaded our bags into the car and set out for home (I'm not sure which one of us was more excited to tell Chet about our finds). When we got out of the car, Ladan was responsible for carrying his own bag. He was so excited to finally get into the house, take them out of their packages, and show Daddy. He kept shouting, "Look what I got with my happy birthday money!" He's growing up!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Cool Guy Ladan

Here are a couple of photos of Ladan from yesterday's attempts at riding his bike. He picked out these new sunglasses at Old Navy. I like them because they actually stay on his face.

Chet was able to hang out with the boys tonight while I went to work. He fixed a well-rounded dinner and helped (i.e. strongly urged... okay, made) Ladan eat some of each thing. It took some work, but he was successful. Anyway, when I got home from work, I asked Ladan what he did tonight. One of the things he told me about was all of the things he ate for dinner. He said with lots of expression, "It was VERY tasty, Mommy." GREAT!

Oh, and for the record, we achieved another milestone in the quest for perfectly accident-free potty use for every three-year-old in our home. On Saturday night Ladan actually sat on his little fold-up potty seat that fits on top of the regular toilet!!!! And on Sunday he used said potty seat on a foreign toilet TWICE when we were at small group! Looks like he's conquering all manner of fears... the terrifying height of the average American toilet (anyone could fall from such a thing) and the equally paralyzing thought that a shower of water on the head and face could at any moment completely melt both eyes right out of their sockets!

And, to end on a bit of a patriotic note, don't you love our country? We really do enjoy so many freedoms and privileges that most people in the world would never even hear of. I am so humbled when I think that God could have brought me into the world in any country, and He chose to put me here. May I use my freedom and the vast number of resources at my disposal to glorify Him!